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Television is my true calling, says Shilpa
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
After winning the British reality TV show 'Celebrity Big Brother', Shilpa Shetty feels the small screen is where she belongs.
'In a way I feel television is my true calling. Of course, I'm known as a film actress. And I'm proud of that label,' Shilpa told IANS in an interview.
A couple of Bollywood actresses came forward to claim they had been offered 'Big Brother'.
'It was their choice if they didn't do it. I took up 'Big Brother' because they paid me my money and stuck to the clauses in our contract.'
But Shilpa finds comparisons with item girl Rakhi Sawant, who appeared on the Indian version 'Bigg Boss', hurtful.
'Sorry, but with due respects, 'Big Brother' is a hundred notches higher than 'Bigg Boss'. Honestly, 'Big Brother' this time was one of the most decent seasons. I was very clear that I was going to do nothing indecent.
'It's the non-celebrity 'Big Brother' that's pretty obnoxious. There was no nudity or anything obnoxious in my show,' said Shilpa.
She made her maiden appearance on television for the first time as a judge for Sony TV's dance show 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa'.
One of Shilpa's happiest memories from 'Celebrity Big Brother' is her friendship with beleaguered pop singer Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine.
'And guess what?' she squealed in delight. 'Michael Jackson saw us on 'Big Brother'. I told Jermaine to go home and just let me hear his voice.'
Shilpa is overjoyed to meet sister Shamita.
'She was shooting in Hyderabad. I borrowed her from her co-star Madhavan. I hadn't spent any time with my sister in almost two months.'
Attempts to attack her family in Indian and British press mar Shilpa's happiness over winning the reality show.
'Please don't run down my family. They accused us of not paying workers at our factory. My father has worked so hard to keep that factory going. The workers love him. I don't care what they write about me. But why target my family? My father is 67. Spare him. My parents have gone through so much on my account. They were worried while I was doing 'Big Brother'.
'I had the choice of getting out. And I was tempted to do so for my family's sake but I didn't want to be a loser. Honestly, it wasn't easy in there. And when people out here see the full footage, it'll anger them. What kept me going was the belief that I'd be out of there in three weeks. But there were fun moments.'
About her sister Shamita's unbecoming picture appearing in a tabloid, Shilpa said: 'Everyone makes mistakes. Publishing her picture was a very mean thing to do.
'The difference between the West and us is that we've some ingrained values and we draw a line of decency in public. No point in aping the West. We should never lose our intrinsic values.'
Shilpa says she never thought it would become so big.
'They were writing all kinds of things about me. If I weren't Shilpa Shetty, I'd have actually believed what's written about me. They're now trying to dig up supposedly unsavoury details about me.
'Out there, they're so used to celebrities who are abnormal and dysfunctional. They're incredulous that I'm so normal. I'm very happy with the way things are going. The media there works very differently from the way it's over here.'
Shilpa has been getting feedback from places as far-flung as Barbados and Romania.
'Yes, it was the racism issue that has made it so big. People in India wouldn't understand the nerves that my situation at 'Big Brother' touched among Asians abroad who've been through discrimination.'
According to the Western press, not since Mahatma Gandhi has the Third World risen in one voice to protest against racial discrimination as they did for Shilpa.
'Asians from India and Pakistan and Bangladesh rose up to protest against my discrimination. That's been my biggest achievement. People at home have been very welcoming. All I'm requesting is please don't write irresponsibly about me. If I don't get respect at home, how can I get it abroad? Don't write well about me. But please don't run down my parents.'
'I want to settle down. But I need a man first. I'm sure god has great plans in that department too. Just look at what he has planned for me this year!'